Angry campaigners have called for a state-sponsored trapping and removal of a beaver family in the Highlands to stop.
Three beavers died in the first phase of the controversial Scottish Natural Heritage operation, which was ordered by Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham last year.
And now, Labour MSP David Stewart is backing conservation charity Trees For Life in its calls for a consultation before any further trapping takes place near Beauly.
Mr Stewart said: “It is concerning that the organisation has written three times to Ms Cunningham since she announced her decision to trap the beaver family but the Secretary has not replied,” explained Mr Stewart.
“Strathglass appears to be completely different to Tayside in that the beavers have never caused any difficulties for land managers and most of the community has been unaware of their presence.
“I believe the Scottish Government needs to listen to local views on this issue and I back the call for a full consultation with the community before there is any action to capture the remaining beavers. I would hate to see more beavers dying after being trapped.”
Alan McDonnell, Trees for Life Conservation Manager, explained: ‘We simply don’t understand why the Secretary is in such a rush to take these beavers from the wild without even considering other options or listening to what local people think.”
Alice Clifford, Strathglass landowner added: “The beavers have been here for years now, but they haven’t caused anyone any problems – in fact most people didn’t even know they existed.
“The trapping has been a complete overreaction from the Government and a lot of people here are very upset that it has led to beavers dying in captivity.”
Trees for Life was studying Strathglass when workers discovered a beaver family in June last year on the River Beauly with two generations of young and the breeding pair had clearly been active for nearly three years.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland is leading the rest of the UK in its work to reintroduce the beaver, centuries after the species was hunted to extinction.
“However, like other European governments with beaver populations, we acknowledge the species has to be carefully managed.
“The unlicensed release of beavers into the wild is a criminal act and the Scottish Government is obliged to act in such circumstances.”